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Thursday NFL Preseason Preview

After an atrocious start to the preseason last week can the Colts put together a better effort Thursday night when they take on Buffalo?

Indianapolis at Buffalo (-3.5) The Colts losing in the preseason is nothing new, and has actually become the norm for the franchise under both former coach Tony Dungy and current czar Jim Caldwell. In their last four seasons alone the Colts are an awful 4-18 in the preseason. The losses kept coming in their preseason opener last week after falling to San Francisco 37-17 as a 4-point underdog. Everything looked good when Peyton Manning was leading the offense as he led the Colts to a touchdown run and a field goal in two series. Once Manning was pulled it all went downhill.

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Backup quarterback Curtis Painter completed 9-of-19 passes for 64 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. One of those interceptions was returned 91 yards for a TD. Third-string QB Tom Brandstater wasn't much better, although he did find the end zone in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis sat Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Bob Saunders, and Jeff Saturday in their opener. Saturday is out again due to recent knee surgery and so is Clark, but there is a chance the other two Colts could see some action Thursday night. The Bills were hammered in their preseason debut, losing to Washington 42-17 as a 4.5-point underdog. Trent Edwards had a disappointing preseason debut with 58 yards passing and an interception in limited duty, but the real trouble for Buffalo came via injury - both running backs Fred Jackson (hand) and Marshawn Lynch (ankle) were injured in the loss. Jackson will miss at least the rest of the preseason with a broken hand, and with Lynch likely out until the regular season with a bum ankle rookie C.J. Spiller will get the chance to prove himself starting Thursday night.

New England at Atlanta (-2.5) The Patriots defeated New Orleans 27-24 in their preseason debut thanks to a final minute field goal. Tom Brady barely saw the field, completing 5-of-8 passes for 67 yards, and he isn't expected to play much more Thursday night. Laurence Maroney scored a pair of touchdowns in the win, and more importantly he never fumbled. Maroney needs a solid preseason to keep hold of the starting job. The Falcons opened the preseason with a 20-10 win over the Chiefs as a 2.5-point favorite. The game was a dud offensively as neither the Falcons or the Chiefs could get much going. Matt Ryan got the hook early on and completed only 3-of-6 passes for 34 yards, while Michael Turner carried the ball only four times but looked like he regained his 2008 form with 29 yards.